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FREE CHICO’S NEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT SOURCE VOLUME 44, ISSUE 10 THURSDAY, APRIL 8, 2021 CHICO.NEWSREVIEW.COM

HOMELESSNESS TALKS HIDDEN STONEWALL’S NEW DIRECTION TEENAGE JAM BAND SISKO REVISITED

Book in Common, How to be an Antiracist, sparks conversation for change BY EVAN TUCHINSKY PAGE

CALLING OUT

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INEQUALITY


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A P RIL 8 , 2 021


INSIDE

CN&R

Vol. 44, Issue 10 • April 8, 2021

OPINION

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Second & Flume . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Guest Comment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 This Modern World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Letters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Streetalk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

NEWSLINES

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Downstroke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Private meetings on homelessness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 New direction at Stonewall Center . . . . . . . . . . . 12

FEATURE

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Local voices confront racism

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ARTS & CULTURE

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April Events. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Reel World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Scene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Arts DEVO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Brezsny’s Astrology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

ON THE COVER: STATUE CLOSE UP OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR LOCATED AT 20TH STREET COMMUNITY PARK PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY TINA FLYNN

Our Mission: To publish great newspapers that are successful and enduring. To create a quality work environment that encourages employees to grow professionally while respecting personal welfare. To have a positive impact on our communities and make them better places to live. Editor at large Melissa Daugherty Interim Editor Jason Cassidy Contributing Editor Evan Tuchinsky Staff Writers Ashiah Scharaga, Ken Smith Calendar Editor/Editorial Assistant Trevor Whitney

Contributors Juan-Carlos Selznick, Robert Speer, Carey Wilson Managing Art Director Tina Flynn Publications & Advertising Designers Cathy Arnold, Katelynn Mitrano, Jocelyn Parker Sales & Business Coordinator Jennifer Osa Advertising Consultant Ray Laager Distribution Lead Trevor Whitney Distribution Staff Michael Gardner, Drew Garske, Jackson Indar, Larry Smith, Bill Unger, Richard Utter, David Wyles

353 E. Second St., Chico, CA 95928 Mail PO Box 13370 Sacramento, CA 95813 Phone (530) 894-2300 Website chico.newsreview.com President/CEO Jeff vonKaenel Director of Nuts & Bolts Deborah Redmond Director of Dollars & Sense Miranda Hansen Accounting Staff Gus Trevino Developer John Bisignano System Support Specialist Kalin Jenkins Got a News Tip? chiconewstips@newsreview.com Post Calendar Events chico.newsreview.com/calendar Want to Advertise? cnradinfo@newsreview.com Editorial Policies: Opinions expressed in CN&R are those of the authors and not of Chico Community Publishing, Inc. Contact the editor for permission to reprint articles or other portions of the paper. CN&R is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or review materials. Email letters to cnrletters@newsreview.com. All letters received become the property of the publisher. We reserve the right to print letters in condensed form and to edit them for libel. Advertising Policies: All advertising is subject to the newspaper’s Standards of Acceptance. The advertiser and not the newspaper assumes the responsibility for the truthful content of their advertising message. CN&R is printed at PressWorks Ink on recycled newsprint. CN&R is a member of Chico Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Chico Business Association, AAN and AWN.

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OPINION

Send guest comments, 340 words maximum, to gc@newsreview.com or to 353 E. Second St., Chico, CA 95928. Please include photo & short bio.

SECOND & FLUME

EDITORIAL

Admit failure on homelessness Iconsidering partisan divide regarding homelessness that, when we get down to the t’s interesting how there’s such a deep

core issue, most people agree that getting destitute folks into stable housing is the ultimate solution. It should be a unifying goal, one in which even the extremists on both sides of the political spectrum can set aside their differences for the greater good. We’d love to see that happen. In theory, it could happen. After all, getting folks off the streets and into housing would appease the so-called “homeless haters” and “homeless helpers” alike. Which is why we are disturbed and deflated watching the Chico City Council operating in such bad faith on the issue. We see this time and again as the council orders staff to raze the encampments in Bidwell Park and elsewhere. We, and the community at large, are tired of this misplaced focus. As we’ve stated before, this game of whack-a-mole causes great human suffering and does nothing to alleviate the crisis. The city knows that partnering with organizations with a proven track record is the way forward. We’ve seen glimmers of hope, first in the fall when the former council earmarked funding for True North Housing Alliance (provider of the Torres Community Shelter) for a new facility that ultimately fell through. Months later, in February, the new conservative panel voted to allocate COVID-related federal funding to the Chico Housing Action Team for the establishment of noncongregate shelter at an old hotel. Though CHAT typically isn’t focused on emergency shelter, the organization was willing to take on that endeavor as a way to jump-start an eventual new permanent housing location. It was a unique plan from an organization that has the experience to pull it off. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond CHAT and the city’s control, that plan also has fallen through. While we appreciate the city’s attempt at recent partnerships, and we certainly think should be explored further, such collaboration simply isn’t enough. Indeed, the city needs to take control. For starters, the council must stop

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balking at the thought of using general fund dollars for emergency sheltering options. The city manager and homeless solutions coordinator have presented several viable scenarios, including legal camping and tiny home projects, as outlined in a Feb. 2 staff report. However, months after that report’s release, the city has not created a single emergency shelter bed. Not one. Contrary to a narrative from city leaders who point to projects of local service providers as an adequate supply, the reality is that additional beds are actually months (and in some cases years) from fruition. Yet another fallacious message circulating the social media sphere is that homeless people prefer living a nomadic lifestyle, a theory that applies to such a small subset of the local homeless population that it’s basically negligible. However, we’re sure it plays well with those who believe the city should do literally nothing to aid the needy. But where has that gotten us? Look around: Homeless people still live in and around Chico’s public spaces—at no lesser degree than months ago—despite the city’s continual efforts to move them along. Moreover, city leaders ordered the evictions knowing full well that local shelter organizations were running at capacity and in the face of warnings from civil rights attorneys regarding the subsequent illegality. The proverbial other shoe has yet to drop on that sticky matter, but we’re fairly certain it’s inevitable and will be expensive. When the city is on the hook for hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of dollars in restitution, that outcome will rest squarely on the shoulders of the five council members who gave the marching orders. What a shame. That money and the funds the city has spent booting homeless people—an effort that continues to this very day—could pay not only for temporary emergency shelter but also for long-term solutions. Fact is, helping homeless folks get off the streets and transition to stable housing is the fiscally responsible, legal and, yes, moral way of addressing the local crisis. That’s not going to change. Question is: Will the council admit failure and do what’s required? For everyone’s sake, we hope so. Ω

Tell us what you think in a letter to the editor. Send submissions of 200 or fewer words to cnrletters@newsreview.com. Deadline for May print edition is April 26.

APril 8, 2021

by Melissa Daugherty m e l i s s a d @ n e w s r e v i e w. c o m

Hope The rain was the perfect company as I sat down to write about the anniversary of California’s coronavirus lockdown. It wouldn’t have seemed right if the sun was shining while reflecting on the events of the past year. At least, not the way I’ve felt for much of that time. As regular readers know, the CN&R’s closure was in some ways temporary. We launched a new website shortly after being shuttered, then restarted the presses on a monthly basis roughly four months later. But in other ways, COVID had a lasting impact. Case in point: The paper’s iconic building at the east entrance to downtown will be sold. I was extremely sad when I learned it was going on the market, but that was so long ago now it almost seems insignificant. Because we work from home, I’ve been into the office only sporadically over the past 12 months. Here and there, I head in to pick up some remnant in my office, filling a box with old notepads, letters and other newspaper ephemera. Sometimes I sit and tinker on my laptop, looking out the window to the roundabout I’ve written about so much. One of the many things reinforced during these outings is that people are the heart of the CN&R. I mean, our building has been a second home to me over the years—14 years as of March, actually—but it doesn’t take brick and mortar to know our community and write about it with care. Still, I really miss seeing my longtime colleagues. I loved being surrounded by others dedicated to journalism, from the reporters in the newsroom to the delivery drivers I’d chat with in the parking lot at the end of their routes each Thursday. One of the other big toughies for this longtime newshound has been coming to the realization that the CN&R doesn’t have the bandwidth to tell all the stories that deserve to be told about our community. I’ve often felt like I’m letting down our readers. What I yearn for the most are the in-depth and investigative stories that are our hallmark. Excellent work has been published over the last year, but the deep-dive reporting that’s in our DNA is much more difficult to accomplish with a small and mostly part-time staff. That includes yours truly. I’m working 10 hours a week, my time mostly devoted to my school-age son. I have no regrets about making him my priority or the boundaries I had to set with the CN&R. I’m still writing my column, editorials and working with folks who submit guest comments. Occasionally, I have time to pitch story ideas and edit the resulting articles. It’s one of the things I miss the most, though longtime Arts Editor Jason Cassidy has done an excellent job since being thrust into the chief editorial position. This is a challenging time to lead a newspaper, especially one that’s gone through so many changes. From what I’ve read, many other publications have ceased to exist in the COVID era. I get that. The easiest thing for us would have been to give up and move on a year ago. And I don’t mean to fault the people on staff who had no other choice. Sticking with the CN&R—and somehow eking out a living—is the tougher road. A handful of us simply wouldn’t give up hope. And hope is a powerful thing. Buoying it is the continued community support. The other day, for example, Art Director Tina Flynn texted me about a couple of checks totaling $300 that had arrived in the mail. She wanted to know if I knew the folks who had sent them. You know, because it would make sense that there would be a personal connection for such generosity. Plus, so many of my friends and acquaintances have donated to the CN&R. Not surprisingly, though, I didn’t know them. This has occurred time and again. Strangers have helped Chico’s scrappy alternative paper get by during the biggest health crisis in modern history. I never knew I’d be so grateful for people I’ve never met—whether they donated $100 or $10. A year later, it’s still scary that I don’t know what the future holds. But what I’ve learned is that it takes a special newspaper—supported by exceptional people in the community— to be able to carry on through this unmitigated nightmare. And despite it all—the personal stress, financial strain and uncertainty—I’m proud to be part of the journey.


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On curing festering racism, including Chico’s crimes, including the terrible murder of eight Iwomen in their workplace in Atlanta. As a white n recent weeks, we have heard about anti-Asian hate

person, it is easy to see the killings as isolated and far away, but stories about Asian hate are not as far from home as we like to think. A dear friend who is JapaneseAmerican was sitting in a waiting room after her coronavirus vaccine here in Chico, when a white man walked by and said out loud to her and to the room, “We gotta stop people from China coming here.” No one came to by her aid or spoke up. Another Adrienne Scott Japanese-American man was The author is spat upon when riding his bike in curator at the Valene L. Smith Gridley. Museum of We must wake up as a nation Anthropology at to the underlying racism on which Chico State. our country was built. Anti-Asian sentiment always seems to be right near the surface

and then gets swept out of sight again. One of the more troubling reactions in Atlanta is how the city’s police captain quickly attributed the clearly antiAsian violence to someone just having “a bad day.” I couldn’t believe my ears. In our city and nation, we are grappling with how police can escalate and deescalate racist tensions. It is clear to me that, besides finding more resources to support mental health professionals intervening in many 911 calls, we must hire a diverse police force. Diversity means not only women, but also Black, Indigenous and Asian people—people of color! These are attainable changes that can make a big difference in our attention to the uptick of racially motivated hate across our country and right here in Chico. It troubles me that friends and neighbors in Northern California are cast as dangerous or untrustworthy because of how they look. This is racist thinking. Racism is taught. Like a disease, it can be changed only by learning how we are all infected. Setting a diverse example in all our hiring, but especially in public service like policing, is a step toward Ω finding a cure for racist outbreaks.

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HEALTHY & HAPPY CHILDHOOD…

LETTERS

Send email to cnrletters@newsreview.com

Recall Newsom, or nah?

Poem for empathy

I’ll start this by saying that I am neither Democrat nor Republican. The whole two-party politico smoke and mirrors nauseates me. I am a NPP (No Party Preference) registered voter. Now, regarding the Gavin Newsom recall: If any party’s governor came in to Butte County without notifying the sheriff or local media and stood among the still-smoldering ashes of the Bear Fire (which claimed lives) and spewed their political agenda of climate change, I would support their recall on that alone. This governor—a product of the Brown, Pelosi, Newsom, Getty family alliance—should be, without a doubt, ousted. Ken Mack Oroville

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It might seem strange were it not so typical that those who most loudly decried the last couple of impeachments, who fulminate over “cancel culture” and say, “We can’t afford to do that!” are flocking to become recallistas. People who, pre-pandemic, thought home-schooling was quite the thing are all a-bristle over the pace of schools reopening. I heard one recallista denouncing Californians as “brain dead.” I would wager she was incensed by President Biden’s “Neanderthal thinking” comment, though he was referring to the actions of two GOP governors. Speaking of GOP governors, throughout the pandemic, watching them has been like watching fish flop on a dock. Sure, Governor Newsom might have done some things differently. His bare-faced dinner party counts as stepping in it, but unlike some, he neither doubled down on his bad behavior nor berated the press for reporting on it. He owned his mistake and apologized. The expense of a special election is one we don’t need. The folks vying for Newsom’s job don’t bring what California needs. I pray that we are wise enough to reject the failed policies of those who want to recall Gavin Newsom. Charles Barnes  Forest Ranch

Speaking of recalls So the Trumpies are initiating another recall, this time against local school board members. One of the reactionaries on the CUSD board inspires right-wing parents to move against board members who believe in public education. Like the camel who gets his nose under the tent, Matt Tennis and his followers would upset the structure that has moved Chico forward for decades. Don’t be fooled by this insidious group. Perhaps Tennis should be recalled, as he will only be a disruption to the educational process. Robert Woods Forest Ranch

Gift Undiscovered We’ll open the door for someone carrying a tray, And wish them, “Have a g’day.” If someone’s carrying their everything undone, their very sight’s a fright. All we’ve got is, “DIAL 911!” How sad to miss the opportunity, to acknowledge their identity, and know the gift of their gratitude; talents undiscovered, and unused, when their survival’s on the line, can desperation be far behind? Charles Withuhn Chico

Progress vs. regression The horrendous way the Chico City Council is (not) dealing with Chico’s homeless crisis is sucking much of the oxygen from public discussions while, at the same time, great initiatives are underway such as the Guaranteed Healthcare for All (AB 1400) bill in the state Legislature. In addition to the 20 Assembly members and state senators who cosponsored this California Nurses Association-written bill, mayors from across the state are passing resolutions supporting AB 1400 and joining the national Mayors for Medicare for All formed by the mayors of Long Beach and Oakland. If the sensible, previous council majority—which passed a resolution supporting Medicare for All at their last meeting in 2020—had remained in majority, Chico’s mayor would probably join this organization. Elections matter. Let’s hope that Chico residents vote looking forward, instead of from fear, in the next election. Bruce McLean Chico

‘We are not over this’ Last Saturday, I was sitting at Beach Hut Deli as a group of approximately 15 college-aged folks walked in for beer. No masks. No social distancing. No regard for others they were walking by. The shop is small, and there was no concern for the employees there, either. Not to get on a soap box, but how is it lucky young college people who get to this town can be so oblivious to the circumstances we are currently in? Is it because they don’t live here permanently? Would they be so flagrant in their own towns with their own families? I venture not. We are not over this yet folks! And our town of Chico is trying very hard to open up. Please, for the love of God, stay home if you cannot be concerned for others. Our town is hard to earn a living in, especially now! We all, including the students, need to show some respect and act like mature caring people. Just stop, please. Tawny Vernau Chico


STREETALK

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We had a cruise to Europe canceled last October that’s been rescheduled to this coming October. So, not canceled altogether. They just gave us credit for another one.

Local news andEducation arts coverage prese Celebrating 38 Years of Quality Legal Local news and arts coverage presented much like the newspaper version of the CN&R, with interviews with the people in the stories and with the writers reporting them, updates and commentary on local issues, community dialogue, arts/music previews and reviews, and spotlights on upcoming community events and entertainment.

Bryce Dunnaway student

I was in the [Butte College] paramedic class and that got canceled. There’s a lottery to get into the class, kinda like the nursing program, and I got in, but they wiped all the names when the class got canceled. So I’m just applying again hoping to get in this time.

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There were a bunch of festivals and stuff canceled last summer— High Sierra got canceled. I’m not sure if they’re back this year.

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NEWSLINES DOWNSTROKE ARTWORK RAISES AWARENESS

Three local muralists have spotlighted the national crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls with a prominent work sponsored by the Hope Through Art Foundation. At 945 West Second St. in Chico, Ali Meders-Knight, Christian Garcia and Shane Grammer painted a striking piece (pictured) featuring the portrait of a Native girl, a wolf and Native flowers to raise awareness. Hope Through Art partnered with the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria and the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake on the project. The foundation said in a news release that many donors for the mural are indigenous and have lost a relative to human trafficking or domestic violence. According to the National Institute of Justice, 84 percent of indigenous women have experienced violence, including 56.1 percent who have experienced sexual violence. Homicide is the fourth-leading cause of death among indigenous girls and sixth-leading cause for indigenous women ages 20-44, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meders-Knight, who is Mechoopda, said on her Facebook page that the mural was an “amazing collaborative effort with community [and] family.”

CASES DOWN, VACCINATIONS UP

With COVID-19 rates dropping and the region downgraded to California’s orange tier, Butte County Public Health has expanded vaccination eligibility and opportunities. Vaccine clinics are now open to any county resident 16 or older. Previously, per state orders, Public Health followed a prioritization system based on age, job sector and adverse health conditions. Shots are available through community clinics and the pharmacies in Chico, Oroville, Paradise and Gridley. Visit buttecounty.net/ ph/covid19/vaccine for details on locations and scheduling appointments. Around 30 percent of county residents are at least partially vaccinated. As of April 5, coronavirus had sickened 11,176 in Butte County, killing 178. But after a winter surge, the spread has slowed. From March 1 to April 1, BCPH recorded 342 new cases. In contrast, the count for Dec. 11 alone was 240, and no week’s total has approached 100 cases since February. The county’s most recent death came March 13. State officials moved Butte County into the orange (or moderate) tier effective March 31, loosening restrictions on businesses’ indoor operations. 8

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APRIL 8, 2021

Closed to the public City/county group meets without oversight; posits unhoused prefer ‘nomadic’ life to shelter

A members, Butte County supervisors and city and county staff have been select group of Chico City Council

meeting behind closed doors to discuss homeless issues for the past three months. While such collaboration could positively impact efforts to address the homeless crisis, the group has been operating outside of the public eye and is reportedly exploring theories—about unhoused residents and local resources—that many find debatable. Namely, Butte by County doesn’t suffer Ken Smith from a lack of available kens @ shelter options, and n ew sr ev i ew. c o m some people simply prefer to “to live outdoors in a nomadic type of environment.” To investigate these theories, the county is paying a controversial new nonprofit group to conduct surveys among Chico’s unhoused population. Those conversations occurred at the city/county collaborative group’s most recent meeting on March 12, as confirmed by three people in attendance— Supervisor Tami Ritter, Mayor Andrew Coolidge and Chico Homeless Solutions Coordinator Suzi Kochems. Council Member Alex Brown—who was not present at or invited to participate in the meetings—said she and other council members have not received briefings or

details about the city/county group’s monthly gatherings, and expressed concern that direction and decisions made outside of the public purview and without input from service providers may directly affect the City Council’s efforts to address homelessness. “I see this as a severe lack of transparency,” she said, “and honestly, it’s what I think we’ve come to kind of expect of this new City Council … lots of efforts to censor groups that are working towards solutions and a lot of things going on behind closed doors that seem to inform what happens in the public, but that a lot of people are being kept out of the loop on, including several council members.”

Email raises questions The CN&R learned about these closeddoor discussions after obtaining a copy of an email Kochems sent to a local homeless advocate who asked to remain anonymous.

It was sent to the paper by a third party and seems to indicate a change in direction from the city’s year-long effort to explore new shelter and sanctioned camping options. “I so appreciate your efforts, but I also want to let you know that council members have made it clear that they are no longer interested in an outdoor shelter environment and are significantly leaning towards not providing any additional shelter beds,” the email reads. “The belief is that there will be enough beds once the Jesus Center, Torres Shelter and a couple of other projects are complete. It seems that council believes that enough has been done, but to prove their theory they are requesting data from outreach teams working in the current encampment areas.” Kochems elaborated on this statement in a series of emails with the CN&R last week, explaining it was based in part on conversations occurring at the collaborative city/ county group’s meetings. In addition to Kochems. Coolidge


PHOTO BY CHRIS NELSON

and Ritter, the group includes Councilmembers Sean Morgan and Kasey Reynolds, Supervisor Tod Kimmelshue, Chico City Manager Mark Orme, other city staff, county personnel from the departments of Behavioral Health and Employment and Social Services (DESS), and representatives for Assemblyman James Gallagher and Congressman Doug LaMalfa. The meetings have been held in person every month since January and at a different location each time (one each at DESS buildings in Chico and Oroville, and one at a Chico city building). “At the last [city/county] meeting together, the City Council attendees (Morgan was not present and the discussion was led by the mayor) determined that additional emergency shelter beds may not be necessary to add to the continuum as there is consideration that there will be enough beds for the homeless who want to stay in a shelter bed once the ‘new’ beds currently under development are made available by service providers,” Kochems told the CN&R March 30. “This thought process is considering that there are quite a few of the Chico homeless that prefer to live outdoors in a nomadic type of environment.” Kochems said the group approved a plan to conduct needs assessment surveys at the meeting. The new beds Kochems referred to are various projects included in a report on upcoming shelter beds she presented to the council on March 16. However, many of those 390

potential beds will not be available for months or even years, and some—like 100 beds that could possibly manifest by February 2023 as a result of affordable housing efforts—are hypothetical. Only 50 beds—from a Torres Community Shelter expansion—will provide additional emergency shelter on a nightly basis. Regarding sanctioned camping, Kochems said her statement in the email to an advocate was based on the council’s lack of receptiveness to solutions. “The City Council has been provided many safe parking and outdoor sheltering proposals/solutions by individuals and service provider organizations since my tenure with the city,” she said. “These solutions have come through city email in which City Council members and city staff have been copied. At any time, council members could move a solution to a City Council agenda for further discussion, and that has only happened once and council did not approve it [a ‘safe parking’ initiative proposed by the North State Shelter Team that would allow overnight vehicle stays at the Caltrans park and ride on Highway 32, rejected Feb. 2]. As well, city staff have presented options for council to consider and that has not made any forward momentum in the past eight months. One might say that council members are not interested in implementing an outdoor shelter environment.”

Debatable direction Coolidge said the discussions had at the March city/county collaborative meeting have not impacted city policy toward efforts to address homelessness or Kochem’s direction as homeless solutions coordinator. “A variety of items were discussed at that meeting but there was no direction, per se, in terms of what needs to be done or what doesn’t,” he said during a phone interview April 1. “Even if there was, that’s not council direction, which would require a vote and discussion and public input. We do have some items coming up [at City Council meetings] that might outline those items more.” Supervisor Tami Ritter says Butte County definitely lacks adequate shelter options, particularly for people with substance abuse issues. CN&R FILE PHOTO

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Chico Mayor Andrew Coolidge reportedly led the discussion at a closed-door March 12 meeting of city and county officials and staff. CN&R FILE PHOTO BY EVAN TUCHINSKY

Asked if he believes a substantial portion of the homeless population prefer a nomadic, unsheltered lifestyle, he said he in unsure, which is why the survey is needed. “I think the idea behind that survey is to establish whether or not, if we have beds available, people want to actually take them, and if they want to actually go get help somewhere versus if they just want a camping environment to live life as they please,” he said. “There’s a strong urge to find out what exactly the folks in those particular homeless communities want and need rather than just providing more beds or services that they’re not going to take advantage of.” Regarding sufficient shelter, Coolidge provided a spreadsheet showing that in 2019, Butte County ranked 10th out of 44 Continuum of Cares in the state according to available beds versus overall population as evidence that Butte County has an abundance of shelter space. The data he provided didn’t include the total or per capita numbers of unhoused individuals. Ritter said she “couldn’t disagree more” with the ideas that Butte County has enough shelter options or that a significant portion of homeless people prefer a roaming, outdoor lifestyle. “We absolutely need more emergency shelter beds,” she said during a phone call April 1. “Where this group landed is that the county has hired a nonprofit organization to do outreach and find individuals who are camping to find out if those NEWSLINES C O N T I N U E D

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City workers dismantle camps during evictions at the Windchime Park encampments on April 1.

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individuals are willing to access services and beds. “It’s putting 90 percent of the [homeless population] into a category that maybe 10 percent of people fall into … people who don’t want shelter, are treatment resistant, or have behavioral health and substance abuse issues that are so severe they can’t make a decision that we see as being in their best interest.” Ritter said low-barrier shelter options are particularly lacking in the county, as are resources like detox facilities. She said it’s unrealistic to expect people to report to sober shelters when they run the risk of experiencing withdrawals. When the CN&R informed Brown of the discussions at the March city/county meeting, she responded: “To say that people simply prefer a nomadic lifestyle seems highly misinformed, is certainly not data-driven and really discounts the nuances and complexities of sheltering environments and the barriers that people face when accessing those environments. “I’ve been involved in the Greater Chico Homeless Task Force, the Continuum of Care, worked in the social services field, and not once have I heard A sign outside a tent at a site of a former encampment under Highway 99 in Bidwell Park. PHOTO BY CHRIS NELSON

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An email from Homeless Services Coordinator Suzi Kochems (pictured) to a homeless advocate says that “council members have made it clear that they are no longer interested in an outdoor shelter environment and are significantly leaning towards not providing any additional shelter beds.”

that additional shelter beds aren’t needed,” she continued. “Not once have I heard that an outdoor sheltering environment isn’t an essential component in the CoC. I’m kind of dumbfounded to hear that this is a conclusion that people reached and that the public wasn’t involved in the process to really understand how those conclusions were reached. It makes it a non-starter when this comes into the public space. And it’s unethical, frankly.”

CN&R FILE PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

Proving a point? Also at the March 12 city/county meeting, an organization called Point of Contact was awarded $9,000 in Emergency Solutions Grant COVID-19 relief funding to conduct the aforementioned survey in Chico, according to Butte County Housing and Homeless Administrator Don Taylor. “We have provided them some survey questions that will hopefully give a level of detail that will aid the homeless services delivery system in assessing needs,” Taylor said April 4, explaining that the county plans to work with other organizations to gather information elsewhere in the county. No service providers were present at the March 12 meeting, and Ritter said Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds spoke on behalf of Point of Contact. Point of Contact is a brand-new group—founded in

March—led by Laurie Maloney, a member of a local nonprofit group called the Chico Posse Foundation, whose efforts focused on providing furniture for transitional housing. On social media, some service providers and homeless advocates applauded Maloney’s work with the posse, but questioned Point of Contact’s ability to collect unbiased, valid information. According to its website and Facebook posts, the group is dedicated to the “hand up, not hand out” philosophy and focused on “accountability” among the homeless community. Maloney and others featured in the “Meet the Team” section of the organization’s website have expressed unfaltering support for the city of Chico’s homeless encampment sweeps and other endeavors some critics label as anti-homeless. None of them have official social work education or experience. Maloney is referred to as a “freelance social worker” on the site, but her LinkedIn profile lists her educational background as a Pleasant Valley High School graduate with work experience in banking and real estate. Maloney declined phone and in-person interviews and didn’t respond to emailed questions before press time. “That’s not a thing,” Brown, who holds a master’s degree in social work, said of Maloney’s “freelance” title. “I think the moment elected officials start relying on people with no background or experience or education in research, social work and the evidence behind what is useful and helpful to people experiencing homelessness is absolutely the moment we go in the wrong direction,” she said. “Outreach and education is an honorable cause …

but there needs to be evidence to drive the work they’re doing. I’m not seeing that show up in this new group.”

Crisis continues The CN&R spoke to the mayor on April 1. The same day, Chico police and public works staff were evicting campers from Windchime Park on Humboldt Avenue. The day before 72-hour eviction notices were delivered there on March 29, the CN&R counted more than three dozen tents providing shelter for more than 50 campers. Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol swept roughly two dozen more camps near the intersection of Highways 99 and 32 on March 31, meaning more than 75 unhoused individuals were set adrift in just two days last week. The last remaining large-scale encampment is at the Comanche Creek Greenway, where the population has swollen to hundreds in the wake of ongoing sweeps throughout the city. Coolidge noted—and the CN&R confirmed—that the Torres Community Shelter had 40 beds available the day of the Windchime sweep. “You and I both know that a lot of those people won’t take those beds,” he said. “That’s the unfortunate reality; people need to connect with solutions … if they’re illegally camping and they’re offered help it’s important they take that help.” The mayor said he’s confident the city has proceeded legally in breaking up encampments, though multiple legal challenges are reportedly being mounted. And though the city’s efforts have yet to amount to a single new shelter bed or legal camping space after a year of trying, he noted projects like the Jesus

Center’s Renewal Center and the Chico Housing Action Team’s Everhart Village are underway. Both are transitional housing projects that will not supply overnight beds. The only shelter space made newly available in the last several months is actually not “new,” but rather 50 beds that opened at the Torres Community Shelter due to the state’s shift to less restrictive COVID-19 tiers. Work on another 50 bed expansion at that shelter, funded in part by the city, is underway with a to-be-determined completion date. Faced with those facts, Coolidge still contends the City Council is on the right path. “I think the progress the current council has made has been amazing, to be quite honest,” he said. “Over the last four months, it’s been very positive. We’re providing the citizens with more info than they’ve ever seen before about behavioral health and the CoC, and hopefully getting this survey back from county will show exactly what the needs of these folks are. Honestly, looking at the previous council’s history on [homeless issues], obviously I believe there were shortcomings.” Brown has an entirely different take on the current council’s handling of homeless issues and said revelations about the city/county group’s composition, conversations and actions are just the most recent example of what’s wrong. “Elected officials are being barred from a process that most assuredly should be public,” she said. “If this were an ad hoc committee that was accessible and available to public, I could see value in it. Instead, it sounds like power plays, not evidence-based decisionmaking. “It’s part of a continuing pattern of censoring voices that certain people don’t want at the table, in order to come to these types of conclusions that support certain value systems or beliefs about people experiencing homelessness with no Ω credible evidence.” MORE

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Choose any time during the event window and share your experience virtually! Join Chico Velo to celebrate 40 years of the Wildflower by getting outdoors in a way that makes sense for you! We’re rolling out two full weeks to get involved with the Chico Velo Wildflower. There are 3 options to participate, special edition merchandise, and virtual interaction along the way. Each option ranges in difficulty. Visit our website for full details.

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New direction Stonewall Alliance Center appoints leader focused on inclusion, advocacy by

Ashiah Scharaga ashiahs@ n ewsrev iew.c om

AChico’s her first experience with Stonewall Alliance

ndrea Mox vividly remembers

Center. Just talking about it brings back the butterflies in her stomach from that day over 20 years ago, when she walked through the organization’s doors and said out loud for the first time in public that she is a lesbian. Mox told the CN&R that she was immediately welcomed. Stonewall offered her a lot of sup-

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port and helped her navigate a challenging time in her life. That’s why, for Mox, being appointed as the organization’s executive director in late February is an honor. She knows firsthand the difference that the center has made in people’s lives, and she’s passionate about its mission: to cultivate a safe, inclusive environment; and to unite, strengthen and affirm the LGBTQ community by providing support, resources, education, advocacy and opportunities for celebration. “It feels really good for me to be able to give back and to be involved with an organization that was so helpful for me at a pivotal

time in my life and a scary time, and I remember that,” Mox said. “Anything that I can do to create safe spaces and meaningful connection for the LGBTQ population, it just means a lot.” Since coming out, Mox has pushed for positive changes for the community, instituting programs for transgender students as a staff member at both Chico State and Butte College. Her vision as Stonewall’s new director is to focus on education and advocacy while drafting a road map for the nonprofit’s future, exploring ways to implement new programs to help the center grow. “I’m coming in with eyes wide

open. Right now, my job is to learn,” Mox said. “I want to support the team and just build on the great work they’ve been doing, and to provide them with that ability to step back a little. Let’s go looking; let’s go searching.” Stonewall has gone through significant turnover in the executive director role, with Mox being the fourth to officially take on the title in less than three years. Alyssa Larson, the organization’s events coordinator, said it has been challenging for the staff to adapt to constant changes in leadership. Mox has been engaged with the team, Larson said, watching, learning, participating and making suggestions—trying to figure out how her role can support and improve

Take Pride

Stonewall Alliance Center is hosting its annual Chico Pride celebration in June and is seeking artists, musicians, performers and sponsors. Visit stonewallchico.com for more info.

Andrea Mox is the new executive director of Stonewall Alliance Center in Chico. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

upon Stonewall’s current programs. “I appreciate so far what I know from talking to Andrea,” Larson said. “Her intention is not to storm in and rewrite everything; her intention is to work with us, which is what we’ve always wanted.”

Longtime advocate Mox grew up in Cupertino but has lived in Chico for decades, choosing to stay put after graduating from Chico State because of the love she felt for the town. In 2000, Mox had been married to a man for 16 years and was raising two young children. She was well-established in her career in information technology at Chico State. That was the year she came out, turning to Stonewall for strength and encouragement. Today, in addition to her new role with Stonewall, she operates


the Rainbow Rescue Ranch, caring for animals with disabilities with her wife, Lindsay Briggs; son, Trevor; and ranch-mate, Danny. Before taking on the executive director position full-time, Mox worked at Chico State for 25 years and at Butte College for nearly eight years, “doing nerd stuff,” she said, starting in technical support positions and working her way up to Chief Technology Officer at Butte College before her departure. In addition to her personal connection, she also has a professional history with Stonewall. She was a founding member of the Gender and Sexuality Equity Task Force at Butte College and worked closely with Stonewall staff to plan transgender awareness and remembrance events and student panels. Throughout her career, Mox recognized the influential positions she held, she said, and looked for opportunities to push for significant, positive changes for the LGBTQ community. Inspired by student activism at Butte College, Mox led a campus-wide project that implemented legal and chosen name changes for transgender students throughout the college’s internal systems, such as classroom rosters, student learning programs and health services. Students can now enter their chosen name, gender identity and pronouns, and the system affirms as well as protects student identities, avoiding outing them in official communications, for example. A crowd sings and dances along to live music in the Chico City Plaza during Chico Pride’s Downtown Festival in 2019. PHOTO COURTESY OF STONEWALL ALLIANCE CENTER

While at Chico State, Mox spearheaded a similar initiative, working with colleagues to incorporate chosen names for transgender students within the university’s virtual learning and class management system. “We did it in a way where we didn’t even put [a name change] in our ticketing system. We didn’t track it at all, because we didn’t want anything to come back negative for that student,” she said. “We just kind of did the thing because it was the right thing to do.” Mox has also presented at statewide workshops, speaking on LGBTQ issues and how technology can be utilized to create safer spaces and experiences for students.

Wider reach Stonewall Alliance Center offers a variety of services to the LGBTQ community, including low- to no-cost counseling; social and support groups; free HIV and Hepatitis C testing; assistance with legal-name and gender-marker changes; gender-affirming chest binders and bras; and referrals to LGBTQaffirming health care, legal assistance and other services. It also hosts the annual Chico Pride celebration, which will be held in June this year (see infobox opposite page), Trans Month (which just concluded in March), Trans Day of Remembrance and other art and performance-based events. Recently, Stonewall has focused creating new programs and support systems NEWSLINES C O N T I N U E D

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for LGBTQ people of color. Last summer, the organization launched the Safer Action Support with Stonewall (S.A.S.S.), a team of volunteers focused on providing safety at protests and other local events led by people of color. Stonewall also established the QT*POC Direct Aid Fund to provide emergency financial support to queer and trans people of color. Since then, Stonewall has granted approximately $8,000 to about 17 people, according to Larson, paying for essential needs such as transportation, onetime rental assistance and energy bills. Stonewall received seed funding from United Way to establish the QT*POC Fund and just received another grant from the organization to expand its efforts. It will be collaborating with local leaders and teachers who are people of color to create a cultural competency training on anti-racism. This will be similar to Stonewall’s cultural competency training centered on LGBTQ issues and identities, which it offers to local businesses, nonprofits, government offices and classrooms. These issues are important for the organization, Mox said. She had already hit the ground running two weeks into the job by attending a digital conference with LGBTQ center leaders across the U.S., sharing best practices and ideas on how to improve and grow their programs, including a focus on intersectionality and serving people of color. Drag star J Lau makes her way to the stage for a performance during Chico Pride 2019. PHOTO COURTESY OF STONEWALL ALLIANCE CENTER

Mox says advocacy work is far from over, especially in rural towns like Chico, where representation, inclusivity and the safety of LGBTQ community members is still a significant issue. Stonewall must prioritize creating welcoming, safe spaces for LGBTQ people of color, Mox said, “but we have to do it in a way where we’re not just putting another emotional tax on that population.” Moving forward, Mox says she is a cautious optimist when it comes to the strides that are being made with the causes that Stonewall supports. She was thrilled about last year’s “rainbow wave,” when a recordbreaking number of LGBTQ people ran for political offices and the United States saw historic political wins among transgender people and LGBTQ people of color. “To me, that is so exciting, to see some actual representation that mirrors what our society really is. And my hope is that, absolutely, we kind of have broken a little bit of that glass ceiling … and maybe we’re actually going to be coming into a space where that will start becoming more of the norm and we will see more representation across all of our communities,” Mox said. But advocacy work is far from over, she continued, especially in rural towns like Chico, where representation, inclusivity and the safety of LGBTQ community members is still a significant issue. “This is life or death for some people, what Stonewall does and what we provide,” Mox said. “I really believe that Stonewall is headed in the right direction. … We definitely want to educate and do it in ways that will gain positive momentum for us, but yet we also want to, I think, stand our ground where we need to stand our ground and be OK with that as a center, and be prepared for any kind of potential repercussions from that. And I think as a strong center, as long as we are committed and focused on what our mission is, then we can stand that ground.” Ω

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CHANGING THE CONVERSATION W Book in Common How to be an Antiracist aligns with the times by

Evan Tuchinsky evant@ n ewsrev iew.c om

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hen Mechoopda Tribal Council Chairman Dennis Ramirez concurred with Chico State and Butte County on the 20202021 Book in Common, then gave a short testimonial, he endorsed the overarching message contained in the title, How to be an Antiracist. He didn’t reflect on deeper subtexts to the memorandum of understanding he signed—with the university, which sits on land his ancestors inhabited, or with the county, which contested the legitimacy of his people in a series of court cases spanning a decade. As covered extensively in the Chico News & Review, previous iterations of the Board of Supervisors pursued legal challenges to stop the Mechoopda from developing property along Highway 149. The county’s case questioned whether they constituted a tribe—an argument that, ultimately, did not persuade a federal judge (see “Tribe on top,” July 21, 2016) or hold up on appeal. A new set of supervisors ceased litigation (see “Change of heart,” August 16, 2018), and the Mechoopda are now working on an agreement with the county to build their casino.

Five years ago, thinking back over the legal fight that went back to 2008, Ramirez expressed pain both personal and tribal. “I think of my mother, my grandmother—my goodness, how can you not say that [the Mechoopda are a Native tribe]?” Ramirez told the CN&R then. “It just blows my mind how people think. Yeah, I could understand it a hundred years ago, but not today.” Some wounds never fully heal. Speaking with the CN&R last Wednesday (March 31), again at the tribal office on Mission Ranch Boulevard, Ramirez said the divisiveness “softened after the political part” of the dispute ended, “but as personal thinking, yeah, it still hurts. It will always hurt. Those comments are not going to go away. “But as a political person for the tribe, I have to make things happen, economically. With that thought, I have to keep that [emotion] to the side and not let it get personal on this economic development portion of it.” Ramirez’s perspective meshes with key concepts in Ibram X. Kendi’s book. How to be an Antiracist does not focus simply on the individual, though it is written as a memoir; it defines racism more broadly, as a function of policies and systems. Kendi,

through his (self-)examination, calls for a reckoning: with personal prejudices, with society, with inequality. He also calls for change. This message resonates with Ramirez, along with those involved with selecting the Book in Common as a centerpiece for education across county schools for the 2020-21 school year. Kendi will participate in an online discussion April 21 hosted by Chico State English professor Kim Jaxon and AS President Bre Holbert (see infobox). The conversation takes place against a backdrop of racial unrest in the country—on the heels of a mass shooting of Asian-American women in Atlanta and the murder trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the asphyxiation of George Floyd, whose killing sparked a wave of protests, including large ones in Chico last June. “Those who are going to read it are going to understand it and those who won’t read it are not going to understand it—but that’s the reason for the book, to be aware of what’s still happening in this beautiful country we still have,” Ramirez said. “From major cities to a small community, you’ll always get that hate. It’s a lack of understanding or a lack of communication.”


Far left: Chico City Plaza was the site of multiple police-violence protests last June in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.

Book discussion:

Chico State will host a virtual event with the author of How to be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi, April 21, at 5:30 p.m. Visit www.csuchico.edu/bic to register, submit a question and learn more about the 2020-21 Book in Common.

CN&R FILE PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

Mechoopda Tribal Council Chairman Dennis Ramirez attributes racism to “a lack of understanding or a lack of communication.” PHOTO BY EVAN TUCHINSKY

Ongoing work

Jaxon’s roots with Kendi’s writing trace beyond How to be an Antiracist, published in 2019. She discovered his work via his 2016 National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. Jaxon drew further insights from Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019. Yet, when the Book in Common committee asked her to co-moderate Kendi’s talk, she had strong reservations. “My first thought, of course, was, ‘You know I’m white?’—and not wanting to center whiteness in this conversation,” Jaxon told the CN&R by phone. “Ultimately, the decision for me became, ‘Yes, this also isn’t just the work for people of color. This is everybody’s work.’ Then it felt more appropriate. “Of course: This is a conversation we all should be having, not just, ‘Hey, people who aren’t white are having this conversation.’” She sees the book as a catalyst for that conversation. Kendi weaves seminal history of Black Americans into his treatise, starting with a high school speech he gave in a Martin

Luther King Jr. oratory contest. That day 21 years ago, before an audience of 1,000 in a Virginia chapel, Kendi delivered lines that, upon re-evaluation, he’s come to regret. He writes about the different lens through which he views the past—King’s, his, others’—and the world. “Americans have long been trained to see the deficiencies of people rather than policy,” he writes in How to be an Antiracist. “It’s a pretty easy mistake to make: People are in our faces. Policies are distant. We are particularly poor at seeing the policies lurking behind the struggles of people.” As such, Kendi redefines terms in his book: “The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘anti-racist.’ What’s the difference? … One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’” His call to action connected with Jaxon. She’d already made the commitment to start the reading list for each of her courses with an author of color, but now she’s determined to initiate more

widespread institutional changes at the university, where she feels she has the ability to make the biggest impact. “I really appreciated that this was presented as an ongoing story, that this work was never done—that’s what struck me first,” Jaxon said. “I think I needed in some way permission to not know everything all the time, to know that the work of being an anti-racist is constant and in progress, and that you can wobble on a given day or a moment. “I think his narrative woven in with policy really helps you put yourself in that narrative and where you are in your own journey.” A resident of Capay, Jaxon raised her adult children in the 30-mile radius of Chico where her family has lived for seven generations. She noted a proverbial rite of passage for young people coming to terms with attitudes “pervasive” in the rural North State. “It is a hard lesson … when you recognize the [racial] issues in the community that you also love,” she said. “Especially being white here; it would be so easy to ignore.” Jaxon hadn’t spoken to Kendi as of last week, and the CN&R wasn’t able to secure an interview with him, but the author has expressed familiarity with at least one local issue of race: He recently retweeted, with commentary, an article last month in the Guardian about unresolved aftermath of Chico police fatally shooting Desmond Phillips, a Black man suffering a mental health crisis, in 2017.

Race is a mirage but one that humanity has organized itself around in very real ways. Imagining away the existence of races in a racist world is as conserving and harmful as imagining away classes in a capitalistic world—it allows the ruling races and classes to keep on ruling. … If we cannot identify racial inequity, then we will not be able to identify racist policies. If we cannot identify racist policies, then we cannot challenge racist policies. If we cannot challenge racist policies, then racist power’s final solution will be achieved: a world of inequity none of us can see, let alone resist.

—Ibram X. Kendi, from How to be an Antiracist

Bigger than oneself Holbert came to Chico from Lodi, where she recalls her ethnicity raising few, if any, eyebrows. She has African ANTIRACIST C O N T I N U E D

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ANTIRACIST C O N T I N U E D

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and Latin heritage; with her uncle and mother well-established in the Central Valley town, Holbert recalls no overt discrimination. That said, she might not have recognized it. Chico State has expanded her awareness of racial issues—and, unfortunately, Chico has demonstrated racism. Besides the occasional look askance, Holbert relayed her experience in a store self-checkout lane one night when an employee asked if she intended to pay for all her items, then hovered. She left feeling “a bad energy” and that she was profiled. “Growing up as an Afra-Latina, I didn’t feel like I fit into really any box,” Holbert, a senior, said by phone. “I didn’t fit with brown students, I didn’t fit with white students, I was just kind of like this mixed child going through my life and my days, not having a solid group of people I could say, ‘Oh, I relate to them culturally and ethnicity-wise.’ “I mean, I relate to people in my community. But it’s different coming to Chico, because there are people who are like me. Bre Holbert, Associated Students president at Chico State, will co-moderate a How to be an Antiracist discussion April 21. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHICO STATE

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Kim Jaxon, English professor at Chico State, will co-moderate Ibram X. Kendi’s discussion April 21. PHOTO BY JASON HALLEY, COURTESY OF CHICO STATE

Even though this is a more conservative area, the school itself has a wealth of different cultures and perspectives that I identify with.” The closer she is to campus, the more comfortable she feels. That physical proximity coincides with shared ideas—operating within the same spaces of inclusion, for which she advocates not only within Associated Students but also within the College of Agriculture and statewide Cal State Student Association. “A lot of times, folks who don’t come from a diverse or ethnic background or a predominantly marginalized group oftentimes will feel this jump to feel guilty about something that is way bigger than them,” she said. “We’re so small in the fabric of this issue, all issues related to race and ethnicity, [that] we all have a part in it and a part to change it.” Ramirez agrees. During the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, a man came up and screamed at him, “You need to go back where you’re from!” Ramirez replied, “You know, brother, this is where I’m from. I’m Native American.” The man said nothing more and walked away. “I don’t know if he was looking to instigate trouble,” Ramirez reflected, “but before you open your mouth, know who you’re talking to by simple dialogue.” Communication—to bridge rifts that cleave our country—is something he hopes will flow from How to be an Antiracist. “It depends on how many hands that book gets into,” Ramirez said. “Right now, with that trial [of Chauvin], and others, it’s [looking like racism is] going to keep going on. “Growing up as a brown man, we were never taught to be racist to anybody,” he added. “But then again, a lot of people are embedded by that from generation to generation.” Ω


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Arts &Culture Creative Fusion

Singular: Monoprints & Monotypes

website for current schedule. $5-$12. Pageant Theatre, 351 E. Sixth St. pageantchico.com

WILDFLOWER CENTURY: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wildflower is adapting. Instead of bringing thousands of riders to Butte County, Chico Velo is encouraging you to participate in your area, solo or with others you have been quarantined with during the pandemic. Wildflower 2021 is a two-week long extravaganza with three options to participate, special edition merchandise, and virtual interaction along the way, April 24-May 9. Signups at wildflowercentury.org

THU8 THE SANDLOT AT THE DRIVE-IN: The classic 1993 family comedy. $15 of each ticket purchased will be donated to Chico Westside Little League. Thu, 4/8, 7:45pm. $35. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

FRI9 HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON AT THE DRIVE-IN: The 2010 ani-

ART OPENINGS

APRIL

Throughout April Multiple venues

Facebook Live every Saturday night. Hosted by Sonny St. James. Saturdays, 8pm. facebook.com/ boomboomroomedm boutiques around downtown. Through 4/24. downtownchico.com

Art

JANET TURNER PRINT MUSEUM: Singular: Monoprints and

1078 GALLERY: Stories Nine, group exhibit featuring eight artists with strong ties to Chico, is extended through 4/19. Next up: Imagine Together - Hopeful Visions for Our Future, stories, recordings, short films, dances, paintings, drawings, sculptures based on imagination and how it can be used to make the future a hopeful, joyful, inclusive place. Submissions accepted through 4/11; shows 4/195/13. The gallery is now open for in-person viewing (limited capacity). 1710 Park Ave. 1078gallery.org

CULMINATING EXHIBITS AT CHICO STATE: Multiple virtual BFA culminating exhibits this month: Landmarks, by photography student Angelea Heartsong-Redding (shows 4/5-4/9; virtual reception Thu, 4/8, 5pm); Schism, by printmaking student Marie Swanson (shows 4/12-16; virtual reception Wed, 4/14, 5pm); Hush, by BFA photography student Kim Schmidt (shows 4/19-23; virtual reception 4/21, 5pm). Visit facebook.com/csuchicoartdept/events for more info.

CHICO ART CENTER: Creative Fusion, annual group show featuring works by Butte County high school and junior high students. Opens April 10. Also, many previous virtual shows still online, including Birds of a Feather, Unbound and Open Studios. Gallery will re-open 5/1 for inperson viewing. Through 8/11. Free. 450 Orange St. chicoartcenter.com

WILDFLOWER CENTURY

April 24-May 9 (sign-ups now) See “All Month, Events”

DOWNTOWN CHICO ART WALK: What’s Bloomin’ Downtown, a group exhibit/art walk featuring work from more than 30 local artists showcased in restaurants and

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TYLER DEVOLL: The local singer/songwriter serenades the happy hour crowd. Fridays, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St.

BOOM BOOM ROOM: Booty bass house music on

ALL MONTH

mated family film starring Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera and Jonah Hill. $5 of each ticket purchased will be donated to Shasta Elementary. Fri, 4/9, 8pm. $25-$35. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

Monotypes, a virtual exhibition honoring the expressive and individual qualities of monoprints and monotypes. Through 5/8. Chico State. csuchico.edu/turner

MUSEUM OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ART: Veteran Voices Communicating Through the Language of Art, a juried exhibition featuring works by 15 artists, all veterans, including David Hoppe, David Smallhouse and Richard Whitehead. The museum is now open to in-person viewing (limited capacity), and a virtual tour will be released. Artists’ conversation 4/25, 3-5pm. Through 5/30. 900 Esplanade. monca.org

Events BLUE ROOM DARK SEASON: Visit the theater’s website for links to recent virtual productions of Blue Moon & Poe and The Jungle Book, and become a Patreon subscriber (patreon.com/BlueRoomChico) to watch already filmed productions of Treasure Island and Blue Stories, plus an ever-growing list of vintage performances from 1990s on. Blue Room Theatre, blueroomtheatre.com

CHICO VOICES VIRTUAL WITH BOGG: Chico Performances presents the latest installment from its live music series, with longtime Chico faves, the jazz quintet Bogg. The online event is available through 5/5 as a 48-hour rental and includes an interview with the band by the CN&R’s Jason Cassidy. $5. Chico Performances. csuchicoboxoffice. secure.force.com

CN&R ON KZFR: Local news and arts updates from Butte County’s community newspaper … on the radio. Tune in at 90.1 FM or stream online. Every Thu, 5-5:30pm. KZFR. kzfr.org

FARMERS MARKETS: Butte County’s markets are open and selling fresh produce and more. Chico: Downtown (Saturdays, 7:30am-1pm & Thursdays, 6-9pm); North Valley Plaza (Wednesdays, 8am-1pm); Chico State University Farm (Fridays, noon-4 p.m.). Paradise: Alliance Church (Tuesdays, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.).

FLUME STREET MARKET: Outdoor shopping and live music on the corner of Eighth and Flume streets. Hosted by Wellspring Art Collective and Chico Art Studio. Saturdays, 11am. Chico Art Studio, 740 Flume St. facebook.com/ chicoartstudio

INSPIRE VIRTUAL AUCTION: As part of its fundraising effort to build a new campus, the school is auctioning off local and international vacation getaways, jewelry, art pieces, winery and brewery tours, signed books and albums and more. A weekly raffle drawing to win $100 gift cards and other prizes runs through 4/23. Online Event, Inspire School of Arts & Sciences. inspirechico.org

PLANT GIVEAWAY AND SALE: Plants are available for purchase, but free for veterans and their families. All proceeds help to sustain the Veterans Garden Project. Saturdays, 9am. Parking lot, Third & Flume streets. Sundays, AG Mart, 1334 Park Ave. 228-1308. veteransgardenproject.org

VIRTUAL SCREENING ROOM: While the Pageant is temporarily closed, it’s offering virtual screenings of the documentaries, cult classics and foreign and independent films that would normally populate its calendar. Visit the theater

SAT10 JUMANJI - WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE AT THE DRIVE-IN: The 2017 adventure/family film about a game that gets a little bit too real. $5 of each ticket will be donated to Marsh Junior High School. Sat, 4/10, 8pm. $25-$35. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

SUN11 SAMARIA: Local singer/songwriter singing classic jazz and soul music. Sun, 4/11, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

WED14 PAINT & SIP: Grab a drink and get those creative juices flowing with Sienna Joy. All materials included with ticket purchase. Seating is limited, so reserve a spot online ahead of time. Wed, 4/14, 6pm. $32. The Commons Social Empourium, 2412 Park Ave. facebook.com/ thecommonschico

THU15 RESERVOIR DOGS AT THE DRIVE-IN: The Tarantino classic. Thu, 4/15, 8:15pm. $25-$35. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

FRI16 INTERNATIONAL FEST 2021: This year, Chico State’s annual event will be a virtual experience, yet still an opportunity for multicultural organizations to share their culture with the community through food, music, dancing and more. Fri, 4/16, 4-7pm. csuchico.campuslabs.com; facebook.com/aschicostate


IS YOUR EVENT ONLINE?

So is the CN&R calendar! Submit virtual and real-world events for the online calendar as well as the monthly print edition at chico.newsreview.com/calendar

INTERNATIONAL FEST April 16

Chico State (online event)

THE CYCLE

MADAGASCAR ESCAPE 2 AFRICA AT THE DRIVE-IN: The 2008 animated family film; $5 of each ticket purchase will be donated to Neil Dow Elementary School. Fri, 4/16, 8:15pm. $25-$35. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

TYLER DEVOLL: The local singer/songwriter serenades the happy hour crowd. Fridays, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St.

SAT17 JURASSIC WORLD AT THE DRIVE-IN: Colin Trevorrow’s 2015 film starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt; $5 of each ticket purchase will be donated to Los Plumas High School. Sat, 4/17, 8:15pm. $25-$35. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

RODEO FLAT: Country/Americana trio from Northern California. Sat, 4/17, 4:30pm. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

SUN18 FATIMA AT THE DRIVE-IN: The 2020 drama starring Sonia Braga and Harvey Keitel at the drive-in. $5 of each ticket purchase will be donated to The Portuguese Club. Sun, 4/18, 7:45pm. $25-$35. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

PETER WILSON: Live music by the singer/songwriter. Sun, 4/18, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

TUE20 TUESDAY CRAFTERNOON: Stop by the Durham Library to pick up a grab ’n go craft kit to make at home. The designedfor-adults kits are available while supplies last. Tue, 4/20, 12pm. Butte County Library, Durham Branch, 2545 Durham-Dayton Hwy.

WED21 A CONVERSATION WITH IBRAM X. KENDI: The author of How to Be an Antiracist, the 2020-2021 Book in Common for Chico

STOP

State and Butte County, will participate in a conversation moderated by Dr. Kim Jaxon, professor of English at Chico State, and Bre Holbert, Associated Students’ president and agricultural science and education major. The conversation will situate the central themes of the book, including definitions and examples of anti-racism and racism, and discuss how to move from reflection to taking meaningful action on issues of racial equity. Wed, 4/21, 5:30pm. Free. Chico State. chicoperformances.com

FRI23

START THE HEALING

TYLER DEVOLL: The local singer/songwriter serenades the happy hour crowd. Fridays, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St.

SAT24 BLU EGYPTIAN: Local high-energy jam band live at the barn. Sat, 4/24, 4:30pm. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930

SEXUAL VIOLENCE IS NOT A GENDER ISSUE,

IT’S A HUMAN ISSUE

Market Place. meriampark.com

WILDFLOWER CENTURY OPENS: See details under “All Month” listings on previous page. Visit wildflowercentury.org to sign up.

SUN25 1122: Live pop, blues and R&B music from the local duo. Sun, 4/25, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

FRI30 TYLER DEVOLL: The local singer/songwriter serenades the happy hour crowd. Fridays, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St.

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EDITOR’S PICK The Chico Performances Chico Voices Virtual series ends the school year on a high note, with an appearance by longtime Chico faves Bogg. Like a lot of groups, the popular jazz quintet has been on hiatus during COVID-19; but even before the pandemic, gigs were on sparse due to the fact that bandleader/keyboardist Josh Hegg and drummer Madison DeSantis have moved to Portland. Yet the boys reunited on the Laxson Auditorium stage for a set filled with brand-new tunes for the final installment of the series for this season. Available to stream through May 5.

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APRIL 8, 2021

CN&R

21


REEL WORLD

Black-and-white season

Sinteresting month of streaming in place: At first, I was kinda miffed that the

ome screen-time notes from another very

Oscarizers ignored First Cow. But, after throwing a fistful of popcorn at our flatscreen, it dawned on me that part of the true beauty of Kelly Reichardt’s beguilingly distinctive movie is that it is simultaneously a great film and categorically unworthy of Oscar-begging attention! First time through with the Oscarnominated Mank (Netflix), I took a film-buff kind of pleasure in the onscreen results of David Fincher’s labor of love, the baroque onscreen realization of his late father’s screenplay about the writer Herman Mankiewicz and the making of Citizen Kane. by The second time through, the Juan-Carlos pleasures ran much deeper, Selznick and for me, the Finchers’ long-awaited project began to take on an aesthetic life of its own. In between the two viewings of Mank, I chanced to see Curtiz (Netflix), a haunting 2018 film from Hungary (in English) that mirrors Mank in a number of interesting ways. It, too, is filmed in sumptuously moody black-and-white, and it deals with the making of Casablanca, with central focus on Hungarian-born director Michael Curtiz and his struggles with writers, studio bosses, fellow emigres, wartime censors, and family. I look forward to a second viewing. As always—but maybe even moreso amid the convulsions of contemporary existence—Murder and the Movies, the latest book by critic/historian David Thomson, is must reading, especially for anyone thinking seriously about the movies and cultural history. The book continues and deepens his incisive reflections on the history of movies, the history of violence in motion pictures, the culture of violence in modern history and the implications for movie viewers as well as moviemakers. Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese and Fincher are among the auteurs getting multifaceted attention in the book’s discussions. “Harry Langdon’s First Talkie” (on

CN&R film critic’s spring streaming includes biographical dramas of cinema’s golden age

Silent film and “talkie” star Harry Langdon.

YouTube) is a little masterpiece from 1929 that was never shown in theaters. It’s a seven-minute promo reel meant to announce a series of short Langdon comedies from Hal Roach studios. Langdon, one of the big names in silent film comedy, performs a short, semi-surreal dialogue scene with the

The next CN&R print edition will be on the street May 6

! t i s s i m t ’ Don

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APRIL 8, 2021

Curtiz

Mank

remarkable Thelma Todd. Langdon’s characteristic persona—the simpering baby-faced manchild—is fully present as are the sidelong moments of burlesque hall rowdiness. All seven of the Roach/Langdon shorts, and the promo reel as well, can be found on a DVD

To Advertise Contact: Ray Laager 530-520-4742 rlaager@newsreview.com Or For More Information: cnradinfo@newsreview.com 530-894-2300

entitled Harry Langdon: At Hal Roach – The Talkies 1929-1930. Bertrand Tavernier, the great French filmmaker, critic, historian and archivist, passed away on March 25. For memorial viewing, I’d recommend one (or better yet all) of the following: Coup de Torchon (aka Clean Slate, 1981), A Sunday in the Country (1984), Round Midnight (1986), Laissez-passer (aka Safe Conduct, 2002) and My Journey Through French Cinema (2016). Ω

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CN&R

23


MUSIC

n w o t n i m a j w e N A young dance-friendly band is ready to get Chico moving

Cbands built-in audience, there have been very few new creating the groovy/funky tunes (most of the

hico loves jam bands. That’s no secret. Yet despite a

current jammers have been in the local scene since its 1990s heyday) and taking advantage of the party-ready crowds. It comes as a refreshing surprise, then, to see a new fully engaged jam band, especially one whose members range in age from 18 to 20. Blü Egyptian was born at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and its members have put the shelter-in-place time to good use by sharpening a high-energy multifaceted representation of the genre, recording by and releasing an impressive EP (Lotus) Jason along the way. Cassidy The four core members—guitarj aso nc@ ist/vocalist Don Jules, drummer Zach newsrev i ew.c om Graham, bassist Cam Fuller and violinist Neo Spectrum—met while taking recording arts and pop band classes Online jams: at Inspire School of Arts & Sciences bluegyptian. (Graham and Spectrum have since gradbandcamp.com uated). Despite the dearth of live-music blueegyptian band.com options, the band has managed to build up some performing experience with sets at restaurants and various socially distant community events (with backup singer Lydia Cooley joining them for many gigs), but it’s fair to say that the real Chico live-music experience is still to come. When the dance venues and festivals open up, Blü Egytian seems poised to keep the crowds moving. The CN&R caught up with the band for an interview in Bidwell Park on a sunny spring day. Where are you practicing during the pandemic? Jules: We practice at my house. We have jam space that we call “The Sound Lounge” where we do all our recording and we practice there like three times a week. Your EP is all about South American rhythms. Where does that influence come from? Jules: I was really intrigued with South American culture for a long time—just like their religions and their gods and outlooks on life and stuff—and so I wanted to write an album about that. I had a theme that I was writing, and it was all that upbeat, danceable world music style. The EP was just a good representation of our writing at the time—and that was just some of the songs that are that style. Did downtime due to the pandemic help things come together? Jules: Yeah, definitely. If the pandemic hadn’t been happening then, we probably wouldn’t have gotten our grounding as a band. That really just gave us focus to grind as much as we can.

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There are a lot of classic rock influences in your sound. How did you come to that music? Do your parents have great record collections, or have you just mined the Internet? Jules: We all kind have just been researching music our whole lives, and if there’s a song we want to play, we just play it. We don’t have any bounds; any style we’ll just play if we want, but a lot of it’s like Grateful Dead and funk. The Grateful Dead influence and, like, Bob Dylan and stuff like that, I got that from my dad always playing records. Blü Egyptian at the Rock ’n’ Oak Ranch in Richardson Springs, one of the few venues available during the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTOS BY KEN PORDES

Do you really write songs in all the styles listed in your bio? Jules: Yeah, we try to have a song for at least [each] different genre, like we have bluegrass songs, funk, blues, EDM, reggae. On our recording coming up—we’re doing a 10-song album featuring the four songs we already recorded—that’s going to show more of our influences. We record it at our house with [longtime Chico engineer] Dale Price—he brings all his microphones and preamps—and then we go do all overdubs at his [studio].

The four core members of Blü Egyptian: (from left) Zach Graham, Don Jules, Cam Fuller and Neo Spectrum.

What are your plans for the band once things PHOTO BY JASON CASIDY open up? Graham: Get our names out there and grind as much as possible— while we’re young. We have so much potential; why waste it? Jules: We have eight shows coming up into April, some really exciting electric shows. We’re playing Blaze ’n J’s 420 festival. We have a tour coming up this summer. We’re going to be hitting Reno and Sacramento, San Francisco, Nevada City and anywhere else that will take us. At the beginning of fall, we’re going to start playing shows like crazy, hopefully, start trying to branch out to more states—just really brand the name Blü Egyptian. Where’s the band name come from? Jules: I originally heard it [at] a festival. This dude was preaching to me all of its medicinal properties. It’s an ancient flower that’s from the Nile River—it’s called the Blue Egyptian lotus, and it’s a big fuscia beautiful flower. When he told me that, I was like, “That would be an awesome band name.” Ω


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SCENE In memory of David Sisk, a reprint of a classic feature on the longtime Chico artist David Sisk, aka Sisko.

Chico has lost a giant in the local arts scene. David Sisk, better known as Sisko, died suddenly on March 21 while hiking in Upper Bidwell Park. He was 75. There’s no better overview of the man and his work than a 2013 article in this newspaper by former Chico News & Review editor and longtime writer Robert Speer. What follows is an abbreviated version of that feature, beginning with the story of a piece of Sisko’s guerrilla art (a.k.a. “chimp art”) that was left on display in a vacant lot for nearly four years.

PHOTO BY DENNIS WICKES

“Judge and release” as one of his truisms. If you recognize David Sisk’s work,

Istreets empty lot at First and Main in Chico, you may have

f you’ve walked past the long-

noticed a metal pole, about 8 inches wide and 12 feet high. by Specifically, Robert Speer you may have r ober ts peer@ noticed that newsrev i ew.c om perched on the top of this pole The rest of is a cartoonish the story: figure reminisTo read the full version of this feature, search cent of a Smurf “World according to or a character out Sisko” at newsreview. of an R. Crumb com/chico. comic. He’s a funny little man cut from plywood and sitting cross-legged among the tree branches as if meditating, like some comical bodhisattva or Burmese forest monk. People familiar with the art of David Sisk will recognize it as one of his whimsical “Sisko” figures, those odd little round and nearly featureless characters that seem to pop up everywhere in his eclectic work—on billboards, T-shirts and bolo ties, on cutout wall pieces and posters, and on furniture, paintings, postcards, pins and photographic assemblages. They are Sisk’s signature image, the imaginary alter ego of Sisko the artist, and they are emblematic of what makes his otherwise politically charged and spiritually challenging art so accessible and enjoyable. His friend and fellow artist Bruce Ertle calls it “sort of an activist guerrilla type of art, but one he makes lots of fun, which enables him to slip in his message. It’s so 26

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APRIL 8, 2021

The world according to harmless and appealing you don’t realize you’re being told something—to stop and think and reconsider. … This Sisko character, an example of his “chimp art,” sits atop that pole at the corner of First and Main streets downtown. “I’m not an art scholar, and there’s a lot I don’t know,” Ertle continued, “but with him I think we have an original.” David Sisk got much of his artistic

talent from his father, Marcus Sisk, who loved to draw cartoon figures. Indeed, Sisk has incorporated into his own work some of the styles and images he got from his father’s sketchbooks, which date from the 1930s and ’40s. His father died young, at just 53, after working his entire adult life for PG&E. This convinced Sisk that he “didn’t want a career that sucked the life from me. … I didn’t want to wait to make art.”

And he has no desire to leave the area where his family has lived since the 1870s and where he grew up and went to school (Chico High, Chico State), and where he and his sister, Claudia, care for their 95-yearold mother. His son Jeb’s daughter, Olive Ayres Sisk, represents the fifth generation of Sisks in Chico, and on her mother’s side is also a descendent of the late John Ayres, the longtime chairman of the Chico State Art Department after whom Ayres Hall is named. The Sisk roots go deep. On the other hand, he would very much like to see some of his billboard art reach other cities, even if it’s only virtually. Using photos of big-city sites that he downloaded from the Internet, he’s cut in his billboard images, juxtaposing them with the hyperactive city life pictured in the photos, to create large prints that suggest what his bill-

boards would look like in a big city. A photograph taken in New York, for example, includes a Sisko billboard above a Red Lobster restaurant, with a blurred Yellow cab passing on the street. The billboard reiterates one of Sisk’s favorite truisms by showing a man holding a bucket of (very large) worms and claiming, “Everybody’s got their own bucket of worms.” Sisk is fond of such homemade maxims and often builds his art around them. “Anything is possible” is another, as are “Nothing isn’t sacred” and “Judge and release.” The last, he says, was suggested by his friend Ken Naas, a counselor in the Chico State Career Center. It’s impossible for people not to judge others, Naas once told him. The important thing is to let go of that judgment as soon as possible. To Sisk that sounded like fishing’s “catch and release,” and he adopted

it’s probably because you’ve seen one or more of the 40 or so art billboards he’s painted over the years. He started working for the Jay B. Stott Co. in the mid-1970s, painting commercial billboards, but it was never comfortable for him. He’s afraid of heights, for one thing, and eventually, in 2000, he became sick from breathing paint fumes and had to quit. Some years later, the man who bought the company from Stott, Jim Moravec, saw some of Sisk’s artwork and got the notion that his unused billboards would make a good venue for it. Sisk’s artistic billboards began appearing soon after. At the time, Sisk was operating the now-closed Drive-by Gallery on Seventh Street between Broadway and Main. While exhibiting artwork in the gallery’s large windows, he and other artists—including, at times, his son and daughter—were using the rest of the gallery as studio space. By nature, Sisk says, he’s an introvert. He once described himself to a reporter as a “sociophobic exhibitionist,” a phrase that describes him fairly accurately. He says his wife, who is a massage therapist, is the extrovert in the family, the one who really enjoys engaging with people. “She gets me out of the house,” he said. They’ve been together nearly 40 years, have hit some rough spots along the way, but now fit each other “like old shoes.” Ertle said he thought one of the reasons Sisk’s art is so accessible is because “he’s not an egocentric guy,” and there’s a childlike quality to his work, but “David is a very sophisticated guy in his thinking. … He’s a very honest, open guy living every moment.” Sisk is acutely aware that, as he put it, “the world is a gnarly place.” He wants to call attention to that truth, but he doesn’t want to make things worse. Why add to the suffering? he asks. “Sisko,” he said, speaking of both his alter ego and himself, the artist, “is light-hearted. He’s a respite.” Ω


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ARTS DEVO by JASON CASSIDY • jasonc@newsreview.com

OLD-SCHOOL, NEW EXPERIMENTS Few things have been as consistent in Chico over the past couple of decades as West By Swan. The long-running experimental rock band has been around for more than 17 years—probably longer than any local crew currently making original music—and Arts DEVO has been following the band that entire time, as my tenure as the CN&R’s arts editor matches the timeline of West by Swan’s run. [Full disclosure: I am also good friends, sometimes collaborator and drinking buddy with all four dudes and have known them personally for even longer.] In a 2006 piece on the band in advance of its self-titled debut West by Swan - Cancellation album, I wrote that the “music is noisy, complicated, chaotic and COVER ART BY OWEN GREENFIELD even dangerous sounding, but it’s also precise, delicate, direct and packed with emotion.” That description still stands—not because the band hasn’t changed at all over the years, but because the four-piece is still exploring all paths. West by Swan’s recorded output has fallen into an every-four-years schedule, with fulllengths released in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. However, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the band has had to forgo gathering to play and rehearse and has instead polished up recent recordings—so we get release No. 5 a year early! Cancellation came out last month on the band’s Bandcamp page (westbyswan.bandcamp.com). It’s West by Swan’s first EP, and each of the three songs finds the band heading in a different direction. Opener “Apocalyptico” is a charging garage-rocker with squirrely guitars, and it’s followed by the dark psychedelic stoner jam “Cancellation.” The final tune is the nine-and-a-half minute epic “Bent,” which starts off with an extended intro featuring a twangy looping guitar riff strolling languidly down a dusty road before a wash of guitar noise and several layers of voices turns the trail to mud and the walk to a trudge. There’s a clear break before the second half of the song brings a new circular riff that quickens the pace before turning up the volume and taking the listener on a bumpy ride across a subtly shifting sonic landscape. The closing song’s title is a reference to the knee of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer on trial for the murder of George Floyd after kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The only lyrics are a brief multi-voice harmony, repeated twice: I believe knees were meant to be bent down in peace and humility / Not for this disease of hate and hostility / I believe. NEW SCHOOL, NEW EXPERIMENTS During his time in Chico, Rami Rodriguez has been behind some of the most fresh and challenging music being made around these parts—from his solo experimental work as DMT to his wild and often chaotic performances as an MC for the genrebending rock/rap/punk/noise crew PERVERT. His latest project is Lagrima (“tear” in Spanish), a sound collage endeavor that’s composed on Rodriguez’s trusty Akai MPC 2000XL sequencer/sampler and draws on wide array of available sounds, including sound bites from dollar-bin records and repurposed warped cassettes that have been recorded over. The end result is the 13-song Moss, a Lagrima - Moss moody, sometimes noisy, broken-beat soundtrack for quarantine times that’s available on Spotify. PLACES, PEOPLE! I have actual goosebumps while typing this: Chico Theater Company just announced ... it’s 2021 season! This is not to say that Butte County’s number of positive COVID-19 cases has gotten low enough that performance spaces can return to shows as normal. In fact, none of the four tiers in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy allows for indoor shows, so until new guidance is released, whatever CTC produces will be outside (for drive-in style theater in the parking lot behind the theater). Still, it’s a glimmer of hope. Making plans for live performances, no matter how tentative, brings a little light into the arts darkness of Covid. There are five shows on the schedule, taking CTC through the end of the year. The season opener will be The Ladies Foursome, a heartwarming comedy about four women sharing a round of golf in honor of their recently departed mutual friend. Visit chicotheatercompany.com for details.

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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY For the week oF APrIL 8, 2021

We need your support Help us continue reporting on important issues

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Author Susan

Sontag defined “mad people” as those who “stand alone and burn.” She said she was drawn to them because they inspired her to do the same. What do you think she meant by the descriptor “stand alone and burn”? I suspect she was referring to strong-willed people devoted to cultivating the most passionate version of themselves, always in alignment with their deepest longings. She meant those who are willing to accept the consequences of such devotion, even if it means being misunderstood or alone. The coming weeks will be an interesting and educational time for you to experiment with being such a person.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In the 1930s,

Taurus-born Rita Levi-Montalcini was a promising researcher in neurobiology at the University of Turin in Italy. But when fascist dictator Benito Mussolini imposed new laws that forbade Jews from holding university jobs, she was fired. Undaunted, she created a laboratory in her bedroom and continued her work. There she laid the foundations for discoveries that ultimately led to her winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. I foresee you summoning comparable determination and resilience in the coming weeks, Taurus.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Religious

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scholar Karl Barth (1886–1968) wrote, “There will be no song on our lips if there be no anguish in our hearts.” To that perverse oversimplification, I reply: “Rubbish. Twaddle. Bunk. Hooey.” I’m appalled by his insinuation that pain is the driving force for all of our lyrical self-revelations. Case in point: you in the coming weeks. I trust there will be a steady flow of songs in your heart and on your lips because you will be in such intimate alignment with your life’s master plan.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): “It is not

easy to be crafty and winsome at the same time, and few accomplish it after the age of six,” wrote Cancerian author John W. Gardner. But I would add that more adult Crabs accomplish this feat than any other sign of the zodiac. I’ll furthermore suggest that during the next six weeks, many of you will do it quite well. My prediction: You will blend lovability and strategic shrewdness to generate unprecedented effectiveness. (How could anyone resist you?)

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Staring at flames had

benefits for our primitive ancestors. As they sat around campfires and focused on the steady burn, they were essentially practicing a kind of meditation. Doing so enhanced their ability to regulate their attention, thereby strengthening their working memory and developing a greater capacity to make longrange plans. What does this have to do with you? As a fire sign, you have a special talent for harnessing the power of fire to serve you. In the coming weeks, that will be even more profoundly true than usual. If you can do so safely, I encourage you to spend quality time gazing into flames. I also hope you will supernurture the radiant fire that glows within you. (More info: tinyurl.com/GoodFlames)

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Physicist

Victor Weisskopf told us, “What’s beautiful in science is the same thing that’s beautiful in Beethoven. There’s a fog of events and suddenly you see a connection. It connects things that were always in you that were never put together before.” I’m expecting there to be a wealth of these aha! moments for you in the coming weeks, Virgo. Hidden patterns will become visible. Missing links will appear. Secret agendas will emerge. The real stories beneath the superficial stories will materialize. Be receptive and alert!

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Jungian psycho-

Independent local journalism, since 1977. Now more than ever.

analyst and folklore expert Clarissa Pinkola Estés celebrates the power of inquiry. She says that “asking the proper question is the central action of transformation,” both in fairy tales and in psychotherapy. To identify what changes will heal you, you must be curi-

by rob brezsny ous to uncover truths that you don’t know yet. “Questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open,” says Estes. I bring this to your attention, Libra, because now is prime time for you to formulate the Fantastically Magically Catalytic Questions.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In April 1933,

Scorpio-born African American singer Ethel Waters was in a “private hell.” Her career was at an impasse and her marriage was falling apart. In the depths of despondency, she was invited to sing a new song, “Stormy Weather,” at New York City’s famous Cotton Club. It was a turning point. She later wrote, “I was singing the story of my misery and confusion, of the misunderstandings in my life I couldn’t straighten out, the story of the wrongs and outrages done to me by people I had loved and trusted.” The audience was thrilled by her performance and called her back for 12 encores. Soon thereafter, musical opportunities poured in and her career blossomed. I foresee a parallel event in your life, Scorpio. Maybe not quite so dramatic, but still, quite redemptive.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I

love to see you enjoy yourself. I get a vicarious thrill as I observe you pursuing pleasures that other people are too inhibited or timid to dare. It’s healing for me to witness you unleash your unapologetic enthusiasm for being alive in an amazing body that’s blessed with the miracle of consciousness. And now I’m going to be a cheerleader for your efforts to wander even further into the frontiers of bliss and joy and gratification. I will urge you to embark on a quest of novel forms of rapture and exultation. I’ll prod you to at least temporarily set aside habitual sources of excitement so you’ll have room to welcome as-yet unfamiliar sources.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Capri-

corn poet John O’Donahue suggested that a river’s behavior is worthy of our emulation. He said the river’s life is “surrendered to the pilgrimage.” It’s “seldom pushing or straining, keeping itself to itself everywhere all along its flow.” Can you imagine yourself doing that, Capricorn? Now is an excellent time to do so. O’Donahue rhapsodized that the river is “at one with its sinuous mind, an utter rhythm, never awkward,” and that “it continues to swirl through all unlikeness with elegance: a ceaseless traverse of presence soothing on each side, sounding out its journey, raising up a buried music.” Be like that river, dear Capricorn!

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): “Is life not

a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?” wrote philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In response to that sentiment, I say, “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” Even if you will live till age 99, that’s still too brief a time to indulge in an excess of dull activities that activate just a small part of your intelligence. To be clear, I don’t think it’s possible to be perfect in avoiding boredom. But for most of us, there’s a lot we can do to minimize numbing tedium and energy-draining apathy. I mention this, Aquarius, because the coming weeks will be a time when you will have extra power to make your life as interesting as possible for the long run.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): I know of four

different governmental organizations that have estimated the dollar value of a single human life. The average of their figures is $7.75 million. So let’s say, for argument’s sake, that you are personally worth that much. Does it change the way you think about your destiny? Are you inspired to upgrade your sense of yourself as a precious treasure? Or is the idea of putting a price on your merit uninteresting, even unappealing? Whatever your reaction is, I hope it prods you to take a revised inventory of your worth, however you measure it. It’s a good time to get a clear and precise evaluation of the gift that is your life. (Quote from Julia Cameron: “Treating yourself like a precious object makes you strong.”)

www.RealAstrology.com for Rob Brezsny’s EXPANDED WEEKLY AUDIO HOROSCOPES and DAILY TEXT MESSAGE HOROSCOPES. The audio horoscopes are also available by phone at 1-877-873-4888.

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